Interno Basilica di San Paolo

The Surrounding Area

Nearest cities  

Noto: In 2002 Noto and its church were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Noto is famous for its fine buildings of the early 18th century, many of which are considered to be among the finest examples of Sicilian baroque style. It is a place of many religious buildings and several palaces . The cathedral dome collapsed in 1996 as a result of irrecoverable structural weakening caused by an earthquake in 1990, to which injudicious building alterations in the 1950s may have contributed. It was rebuilt and reopened in 2007.

Palazzolo Acreide: The area around Palazzolo Acreide was inhabited by humans since very ancient times. In the 11th-10th centuries BC, the Siculi lived here in small villages. An earthquake in 1693 destroyed almost all of the city, which was slowly rebuilt in the following centuries. The church of St. Sebastian was built in the 15th century but was destroyed in 1693 by a huge earthquake. In the early 18th century a new edifice was built with a nave and two aisles.  The church is noteworthy for its fine Baroque decorations, including a wide usage of stuccoes in the interior.

Siracusa: The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheaters, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes. In the modern day, the city is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site along with the Necropolis of Pantalica. Ortygia is a small island which is the historical center of Syracuse. The island, also known as Città Vecchia (Old City), contains many historical landmarks: - The Temple of Apollo, at Piazza Emanuele Pancali, adapted to a church in Byzantine times and to a mosque under Arab rule. - The Fountain of Arethusa, on the Ortygia island. According to a legend, the nymph Arethusa, hunted by Alpheus, took shelter here. - The Cathedral of Syracuse (Italian: Duomo) was built by bishop Zosimo in the 7th century over the great Temple of Athena (5th century BC). This was a Doric edifice with six columns on the short sides and 14 on the long sides: these can still be seen incorporated in the walls of the current church. The base of the temple had three steps. The interior of the church has a nave and two aisles. The roof of the nave is from Norman times, as well as the mosaics in the apses. The façade was rebuilt by Andrea Palma in 1725–1753, with a double order of Corinthian columns, and statues by Ignazio Marabitti. - Church of Saint Lucy “alla Badìa”, a Baroque edifice built after the 1693 earthquake. It hosts the Burial of St. Lucy by Caravaggio.

Modica: The city is situated in the Hyblaean Mountains. Its architecture has been recognized as providing outstanding testimony to the exuberant genius and final flowering of Baroque art in Europe and, along with other towns in the Val di Noto, is part of UNESCO Heritage Sites in Italy. According to Thucydides, the city was founded in 1360 BC or 1031 BC and was inhabited by the Sicels in the 7th century BC. It was probably a dependency of Syracuse. Modica consists of two urban centers, "Modica Alta" (Upper Modica) and "Modica Bassa" (Lower Modica). The older upper part is perched on the rocky top of the southern Iblei hill, the lower part is built on the lower slopes and valley below. The walk down from Modica Alta to Modica Bassa reveals vistas of the lower town and involves many steps; not many attempt the reverse journey on foot. Despite being ravaged by earthquakes in 1613 and 1693, and floods in 1833 and 1902, Modica has retained some of the most beautiful architecture in Sicily. Much of the city was rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake with imposing and conspicuous urban monuments in the Sicilian Baroque style. The large Baroque Cathedral "San Giorgio" is dedicated to St George. While the cathedral was rebuilt following the earthquake of 1693, like many other parts of the city its roots are in the Middle Ages. From the front of the Cathedral a staircase of 300 steps leads down towards Modica Bassa. Another notable church is "San Pietro", dedicated to St Peter, in Modica Bassa, featuring a principal façade crowned by a typical Sicilian Baroque bell tower, 49 meters (161 ft.) high.

Scicli: Alongside seven other cities in the Val di Noto, it has been listed as one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. Settlements of the area of Scicli dates back to the Copper and Early Bronze Ages (3rd millennium BCE to the 15th century BCE).Scicli was founded by the Sicels (whence probably the name) around 300 BCE. Following a catastrophic earthquake in 1693, much of the town was rebuilt in the Sicilian baroque style, which today gives the town the elegant appearance which draws many tourists to visit it. Church of San Matteo, which was the local Mother Church until 1874. It is located on the eponymous hill in the Old City, where there is also the ruin of an Arab/Norman castle. The church of Santa Marìa la Nova, with a huge Neoclassicist façade. The interior houses a cypress-wood statue of Madonna della Pietà, probably of Byzantine origin. The Mother Church of St. Ignaz, housing the highly venerated image of Madonna dei Milìci. The stenographic St. Bartholomew, in Baroque style.

Ragusa: Together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1693 Ragusa was devastated by a huge earthquake, which killed some 5,000 inhabitants. Following this catastrophe the city was largely rebuilt, and many baroque buildings from this time remain in the city. The city has two distinct areas, the lower and older town of Ragusa Ibla, and the higher Ragusa Superiore (Upper Town). The two halves are separated by the Valle dei Ponti, a deep ravine crossed by four bridges, The most noteworthy of which is the eighteenth-century Ponte dei Cappuccini. Ragusa Ibla is home to a wide array of Baroque architecture, including several stunning palaces and churches. The Cathedral of San Giorgio started in 1738 by architect Rosario Gagliardi, in place of the temple destroyed by the 1693 earthquake, and of which is the only place in the city a Catalan-Gothic style portal can still be seen. The façade contains a flight of 250 steps and massive ornate columns, as well as statues of saints and decorated portals. The interior has a Latin cross plan, with a nave and two aisles ending in half-circular apses. It is topped by a large Neoclassical dome built in 1820. On a narrow winding street connecting Ragusa Ibla with Ragusa Superiore lies the church of Santa Maria delle Scale ("Saint Mary of the Steps", built between the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries). This church is particularly interesting: badly damaged in the earthquake of 1693, half of this church was rebuilt in Baroque style, while the surviving half was kept in the original Gothic style (including the three Catalan-style portals in the right aisle). The last chapel of the latter has a Renaissance portal. The chapels are adorned with canvases by Sicilian painters of the 18th century.

Catania: Catania is known for its historical earthquakes, having been destroyed by a catastrophic earthquake in 1169, another in 1693, and several volcanic eruptions from the neighboring Mount Etna, the most violent of which was in 1669. The symbol of the city is “u Liotru”, or the Fountain of the Elephant, assembled in 1736 by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. It portrays an ancient lava stone elephant and is topped by an Egyptian obelisk from Syene. Legend has it that Vaccarini's original elephant was neuter, which the men of Catania took as an insult to their virility. To appease them, Vaccarini appropriately appended elephantine testicles to the original statue. The city has been buried by lava a total of seventeen times in recorded history, and in layers under the present day city are the Roman city that preceded it, and the Greek city before that. Many of the ancient monuments of the Roman city have been destroyed by the numerous seisms. Currently, different ancient remains can be seen and visited in the city-center, as part of an archaeological park (Parco Archeologico Greco-Romano di Catania). The Baroque city center of Catania is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Monumental and archeological sites 

Colonna Pizzuta:monument dating back to the third century BC at the base of which an underground chamber was uncovered dating back to the time of Ierone II.

The Archaeological Park of Eloro: : The city of Eloro, built at the end of the VII Century BC by a Corinthian colony, became an outpost of Syracuse between the VII and VI Centuries BC.

Villa Del Tellaro: A late Roman villa belonging to the Imperial Age of the IV Century BC where splendid polychrome mosaic floors have been uncovered.

Noto Antica: The ancient city stands on a vast heart-shaped plateau called Alveria. Destroyed by a terrible earthquake (AD 1693), today it is a notably interesting archaeological area.


Natural Reserves 

The Natural Reserve of Vendicari: extending for about 8 km along a coast line rich with beaches, rocks, dunes and small tucked-away bays to a series of pools forming an ecosystem characterized by a multitude of vegetation (junipers, dwarf palms, reeds and glasswort) and varied wildlife including around 250 species of birds (flamingos, Royal Swans, herons, ducks and cormorants)as well as many different types of reptiles.
Cava Grande del Cassibile: is a nature reserve formed by an awe inspiring valley carved out by water with chalk rocks on either side. The sides appear to converge as they near the bottom of the valley where the River Cassibile flows forming small lakes where it is possible to take a swim. The vast rocky necropolis (X Century BC) makes for an interesting visit.

Nearest beaches

Eloro: located in the north of the Reserve of Vendicari, next to the most tourist Lido di Noto. Underlying to the homonyms archeological excavations, are easily attainable by the highway Syracuse-Gela. Following the indications in about 10 minutes from Noto gate, you will reach the comfort equipped parking area.

Marianelli: it is an isolated, wild and uncontaminated beach inserted among almond trees, lemon trees and dunes of sand enriched by an unique flora. It is found in the north of the Reserve between the beach of Eloro and Calamosche. It has a low backdrop, clear and lukewarm waters (in August). Being isolated and wild it’s a bit difficult to reach. His/her frequenters are the lovers of the calm and the privacy.

Calamosche: it is a sandy cove that extends for around 200 meters, delimited by two rocky promontories that serve as shelter to the tides, with the result of a calm and crystalline sea always. The direct access to this beach is guaranteed from a devoted entry, attainable from the SP19. Once arrived to the equipped parking, it needs to take a path of around one kilometer. A small sacrifice compensated once broadly arrived, when will open you in front of our eyes an enchanting place, a true natural heaven!

Lido di Noto: on the oriental south coast of Sicily, not far from Noto. It’s a beautiful and long beach bathed by a clean and clear sea with backdrops that slowly descend gradually toward the breadth. Along the beach you can found attractive bathing establishments with the possibility to also practice aquatic sport. The beach is easily attainable and offers possibility of parking on the street or in private parking area.

Other beaches

San Lorenzo: characterized by great beaches and small inlets. The end and clear sand is softly wet from a turquoise and crystalline sea with descending gradually backdrop, that allows also to the smallest children to enjoy the sea.

Marzamemi: near to the ancient suburb of Marzamemi, this beach is attainable by foot crossing few hundred meters from the inhabited center. It has an elegant and gilded sand and a small rocky line next to the dock of Marzamemi.

Playa Carratois: The natural continuation of the coastal line that faces Tides’s Island (Isola delle Correnti), Carratois is one of the beaches not to lose near Portopalo. It is far around seven kilometers by the inhabited center and has crystalline waters, low backdrop and a long gilded beach.

Fontane Bianche: Defined by the “Sole 24 ore” the Tropic of the Mediterranean sea, the beach takes its name both from the natural fountains of sweet water that are found in this area, and from the particular white color of the sand that extends for around 3 Km. Fontane Bianche is above all a place of vacation to 15 km from Syracuse on the oriental coast of Sicily.